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Posted on  

November 13, 2003

Ethanol plant progressing

by Ron Fields, The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

Calling the project a culmination of dreams, Big River Resources co-chairman Ray Defenbaugh was among the local officials on hand to accept a $500,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to help fund the completion of a new road to the ethanol plant.

The plant, Defenbaugh said, eventually will employ between 32 and 40 workers and should come online by April.

"This was a corn field when we came out here," Defenbaugh said of the Big River Resources plant, which is located west of West Burlington off of U.S. 34.

David Sampson, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, called the funding an "investment," noting the road could become a hot spot of growth in Des Moines County.
"You have planted a seed that will continue to bear economic fruit ... for years to come," said Sampson, who also presented grant checks in Eddyville and Keokuk during a swing through southeast Iowa.

The $1.4 million road project will provide access to the ethanol plant from Beaverdale Road. When budgeting for the project, the county budgeted for the federal grant, with the remainder of the bill being paid from state and county coffers.

"We knew we had a good shot at getting it," said Des Moines County Supervisor Tim Hoschek.
The ethanol plant is ahead of schedule, Defenbaugh said, noting that the facility may begin buying corn in January, with the first ethanol being produced in the spring.

The $57 million plant is designed to process 15 million bushels of corn and produce about 40 million gallons of ethanol annually.
Defenbaugh agreed that the road, once paved, could become a prime location for further development.

"Another dream is that the road will be lined with other businesses," he said.

Sampson said the grants handed out Thursday were part of a Bush administration effort to spark economic growth in rural areas.

"Throughout the economic boom of the 1990s, (rural America) did not keep pace with that," he said, noting that the grants are used to attract private sector investment in an area.
He said that $11 million in EDA grants distributed in Iowa over the past three years has resulted in $557 million in private investments.

"Government doesn't build wealth ... but government at all levels can build a business environment and create conditions where the private sector will risk capital and invest in jobs," said Sampson, noting that value-added agriculture provides southeast Iowa with a notable asset.

"There are lots of folks in rural America that would love to have the assets ... you have here," he said.


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